Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Joseph Tainton (1901–1981)

by Jennifer Noble

This article was published:

Joseph Tainton (1901-1981), Methodist minister, was born on 24 February 1901 at Sherwood, Brisbane, eldest of five children of English-born Albert Tainton, farmer and fruit-grower of Woombye, and his Queensland-born wife Elizabeth Jane, née Singleton. Educated at Woombye State School, Joe began work on his father’s pineapple farm. A lay preacher in the Nambour Methodist circuit from 1919, he became a Methodist home missionary at Chinchilla (1921) and in the Woodford-Kilcoy area (1922). In 1923 he moved to King’s College, University of Queensland, to study theology. Qualifying from Melbourne College of Divinity (L.Th., 1926), he was ordained on 28 February 1927. He married Eva Tillage Lithgow in Dalby Methodist Church on 8 August 1927. Over the next two decades he gained further academic qualifications: from the University of Queensland (BA, 1939) and from MCD (BD, 1948).

Between 1926 and 1965 Tainton served in a succession of Queensland Methodist circuits: East Ipswich, Cairns, Enoggera, Wondai, Hamilton, Rockhampton (Campbell Street), Ipswich (Ellenborough Street), Toowoomba, Coorparoo and Ithaca. He was a chaplain (1939-41) in the Australian Imperial Force. A member (1945-47) of the Ipswich church’s centenary celebrations committee, he wrote a history of the circuit, One Hundred Years of Methodism in Ipswich (1948). From 1962 to 1965, when he retired, he was superintendent of the Indooroopilly circuit.

Tainton was secretary and then chairman (1958-60) of the Methodist Hospitals Board. Director (1958-64) of the Methodist Child Welfare Council, he helped to transform Methodist residential child care from large institutionalised care (for example, the Queen Alexandra Home for Children at Coorparoo) to smaller family-group homes with house parents. He oversaw the establishment of nine cottage family homes at Toombul, Aspley, Bardon and Wynnum, one of which was named Tainton in 1967. In 1954-60 he served as secretary and in 1963-65 as chairman of King’s College council, during its relocation to the university campus at St Lucia. He led the church as secretary (1959-60) and president (1960-61) of the Queensland Methodist Conference, and was a Methodist representative on the State branch of the Australian Council of Churches.

Totally committed to ‘working in the Master’s service’, Tainton applied his insight, business acumen, meticulous attention to detail and precise organisation of time and information. Few obstacles remained insurmountable. A clear thinker and a forthright optimist, Joe Tainton ‘made things happen’. He was extremely disciplined, using the early hours of the morning for study and sermon preparation. In retirement he published A Record of the Establishment and Development of Methodist Children’s Homes 1910-70 (1970), a Tainton family history (1972) and a local history, Cobb’s Camp, Woombye (1977).

Of average height and stocky build, Tainton had a serious expression that belied a good sense of humour. A member of the Woombye Rifle Club in his youth, he later enjoyed fishing and growing vegetables. He read widely, possessing an extensive personal and professional library. In 1980 he was appointed MBE. Survived by his wife and their two sons and three daughters, Tainton died on 12 July 1981 in his home at St Johns Wood, Brisbane, and was buried in Woombye cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Woombye State School Centenary: 1885-1985 (1985)
  • Brisbane Courier, 1 Mar 1927, pp 17, 20
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 13 Oct 1960, pp 1, 8, 14 July 1981, p 12
  • Methodist Times (Brisbane), 13 Oct 1965, pp 1, 8, 12, 11 Mar 1965, p 10, 9 Dec 1965, p 7
  • Life and Times (Brisbane), 5 Aug 1981, p 8
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

Jennifer Noble, 'Tainton, Joseph (1901–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 17 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


24 February, 1901
Sherwood, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


12 July, 1981 (aged 80)
St Johns Wood, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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